Somewhere between the small hollow of my waist and the curves of my hips, his hands lingered. Through the soft linen fabric of my gown, I felt them – long, lean and strong – sending pins and needles up my spine. I held my breath, he released his, fresh and clean, on my right cheek, close to my ear.
We moved slowly, quietly at first, to the rhythm of the music. Then, “…give your all to me, I’ll give my all to you; you’re my end and my beginning….” his almost soft voice harmonized with John Legend’s somewhat husky one on the sound system.
Closing my eyes to enjoy the moment, I silently laced my fingers together behind his neck and let my head rest on his shoulder. Light stubble from his chin gently teased my forehead as I did so. Goose bumps like I had never known before broke out on my skin and for each tear that I held back, a thousand more seemed to well up inside me.
“Even when I lose I’m winning, ‘cause I give you all of me….” he continued. With his right index finger, he wiped off a stubborn tear that had somehow found its way down my left cheek and held it to me with a feigned scowl. Then I laughed, loud and carefree, throwing my head back and acting oblivious to the sea of pink head gears or caps and blue lace materials watching us. Tears, hot, salty, began to burn my eyes, and quickly burying my face in his chest, savouring the sweet smelling fragrance of his strong, masculine perfume, I hid them.
“…how many times do I have to tell you, even when you’re crying you’re beautiful too…” as if on cue he sang, like he owned Legend’s “All of me”, and placing a finger under my chin, he raised my head to look at him.
I gasped, choking on sobs, when I caught in his eyes an expression that both frightened and excited me, one so intense that I feared it would somehow burst right through his blue eyes. Still, I was confident that whatever it was, it’d last us a life time of friendship, love and happiness. Hadn’t we already taken the first step towards that?
We had exchanged our vows and rings only an hour ago. And I couldn’t help the indescribable tingly and stirring feelings that had resulted from that act. Now, the song, his voice, the way he moved, held, looked, even the smell of fresh green leaves that surrounded us, were fast turning those feelings into one huge mess of emotions. I wanted to laugh, scream, and dance all at once amidst my tears.
Yes, happy tears! I stifled them and smiled, suddenly remembering that day in February when Chinwe had insisted on my appointment with Richard.
“Richard is a very good dentist, much better than those crappy dentists that call themselves professionals,” my friend had said when I complained of a tooth ache.
I had sighed then, holding my swollen cheek. “You know what; I don’t think it’s that serious. Think it’s just a gum infection. I’ll probably get a Bungela or something,” I said, dreading the thought of another tooth extraction.
“…Uh…heeello? Have you seen yourself hold your cheek around town? You don’t know for sure that it’s a gum infection. That’s why you need a dentist to confirm. Abeg, go see him,” she said, shoving his complimentary card into my bag.
And that was it. I saw Richard the following day and had my tooth extracted just as I had feared. But it felt good to be finally rid of the excruciating pain. What was more, he, Richard, the dentist, now my husband, made the otherwise messy and painful business of tooth extraction painless. With his jokes, he made me so comfortable that by the time he had extracted the tooth and handed me a list of prescription pills, we were best friends.
“You!!! Chinwe!!! You’re a horrible friend oh, you know that? Why didn’t you tell me?” I hit my best friend across her chest with a pillow as soon as I returned home.
“Tell you what?” she looked genuinely shocked, and then angry to be rudely woken from sleep.
“Wait! You really don’t know what you did?” I stopped hitting and returned the pillow to its place on the bed. She hadn’t warned me that her dentist was young, pleasant and good looking. Most of all, she had skipped out one huge detail.
“You didn’t mention that he’s white,” I said, my eyes bulging.
“Because you didn’t ask,” she hissed, turning on the bed to resume her sleep.
“And you forgot to mention that he’s young, humourous and fiiine,” I continued, ignoring the irritation that was gradually creeping into her voice.
“So? Nwaayi! Hapum aka, abeg! I don’t know what you’re complaining about. At least, you no longer have to hold your cheek. You should thank me.”
“Daalu!” I heaved beside her on the bed, saying the one Igbo word I understood. “Thank you, my best friend.”
And there she was. I spotted Chinwe, my maid of honour, at a corner of the garden, arranging some things on a table. Just then, as if she felt my eyes on her, she turned to look at me and smiled. I mouthed the words, “Thank you!” She replied by pointing two of her fingers to her eyes and then to Richard, while she mouthed the words, “focus!” before returning to her work.
I obeyed. Richard’s bow tie had somehow shifted a little out of place and his brown hair was now a bit tousled in front as it was often wont to even when lightly touched. His face was considerably flushed so that his otherwise pale skin colour was now almost red. And although the wind blew not too lightly, there were small beads of sweat forming on his forehead and just above his upper lip. All this combined to give him a somewhat disheveled look, yet there was no denying the fact that he looked near perfect. His fitted pale gray suit and white shirt, in an indefinable way complemented his blue eyes, which I couldn’t help but gaze into, and as he took Legend’s last notes, “I give you all of me, and you give me all of you, oh”, I was all but consumed by the emotions of the song reflecting in them.
The song ended. My head was back on his shoulder and I could again feel his breath on my cheek. With a deliberate slowness, his hands moved up my back till they were on my neck. Then, he cupped my head in them and allowed warm desire explode through his lips, full and luscious, as he brought them hard on mine. It was our first deep kiss as a married couple and all I could think was…..Heaven! This must be what heaven, lined with strawberry muffins, tasted like!